Could you briefly introduce the KI House to our readers?
The main focus of the KI House program is one-to-one. Unlike usual language centers or school programs that teach students in groups, we try to give as much attention as possible to the individual students with the professionally trained teaching staff we have. Also, most language centers create fixed time programs that the students have to fit into their schedules. However, we encourage students to come in at a time that fits their schedule or simply at times when they want to learn. The Korean classes we offer always have good reviews among students. We also organize a number of other programs. We host “Korean Day” and “Korean Night”, where we try to introduce Korean culture to our international students. We invite musicians who specialize in traditional Korean music to perform for us at the KI House or gather together to make Korean food. Additionally, we host the annual Korean Speech Contest, which will be held for the 13th time in November. The winner of this contest even gets a certificate from the president of KAIST himself, which is a huge boost for students who are applying for jobs in Korea. There is also the Chuseok and Seollal parties at the house. During those long holidays, when the vast majority of Korean students go back to their homes, we try to organize some food for the international students. We usually get from 40 to 50 students on Seollal and from 80 to 100 students on Chuseok. Then, there are trips and bazaars organized by us. We have a bazaar at the beginning of every semester. We don’t want our students to buy clothes that they will only need for a short period of time and have to leave behind. Now we also have a new project called KAIST Appropriate Technology Team (KATT). KATT was founded to meet every Wednesday and to think of ways to help the disadvantaged 90% of the world by devoting our humble talents and time. And to demonstrate our desire to help those in need, we decided to participate in the appropriate technology contest hosted by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning at Seoul National University in May. It is open for everyone so those of you who are interested, please join us at the KI House located in N5 room number 2233!
What is your opinion on the current international community at KAIST?
The KISA presidents were always friends of the KI House. However, we never really had the chance to work with the KISA students directly. Currently, we just participate in the annual international food festival, which the KI house had originally founded. It is good to see students organizing events independently by taking the initiative. We never had the chance to be more deeply involved with the students, but many international students come here on a weekly basis and it’s nice to be able to bond with them. One sad part is that there is too little participation from the Korean students. Many international students feel left out because of the general atmosphere at KAIST. I hope this can change.
Congratulations on getting the prize. How did you feel about it?
This is already the 14th year of the KI House. During this period, however, we never officially advertised the KI House. It has always been more of a word-of-mouth advertisement. Naturally, not many people were familiar with the KI House. However, we received the prize in front of the entire KAIST faculty, where the people who had no relation with the KI House recognized us. I felt that all the effort we had devoted to the KI House for more than 10 years was not in vain.